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The RFP is a solicitation—you’re asking vendors whether and how they can solve your problem and support your project.

RFP – what is it? And how to respond?  

An RFP is a request for proposal, it is a document used in business. It is also known as a tender document or ITT (invitation to tender). Used by organisations who have a need and who would like to receive specific bids, which can respond to the information they provide within the RFP.

An RFP will set out: 

  • Who the buyer is
  • Background to the procurement activity
  • Procurement timeframes
  • Specification and technical data
  • Instructions to bidders (how they want to respond)
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Quality section - questions for Bid Writes to respond to
  • Commercial section or pricing


What is a Formal Procurement Document? 

 As a formal procurement document, an RFP will provide you with a specific route to seek clarity and ask for further information. This is often via portal or procurement email. Other than formal presentations which often happen before to the publication of an RFP from the buyer to describe the process they have been through and what they will be looking for, there is rarely an opportunity after this to engage and have discussions with the buyer. Your clarification questions are your route at this stage of the RFP.  

It is critical any business looking to respond to an RFP fully reads the documentation provided. A bidder needs to understand the requirements and their chances of success before committing to a response. If a positive decision is reached this is where your Bid Team or Bid Writing Consultancy will often start to take the lead and coordinate the process while developing the quality responses.

What steps are taken? 

Once the bid is submitted to the procurement team who published the RFP, they then have to evaluate it. They review your RFP response or bid, following their evaluation criteria which covers cost and quality, to select the winning bidder; the one who scores the highest overall. They may also use the RFP to shortlist to a Presentation Stage. At this presentation or interview, you can be asked to outline your solution briefly but the focus should be on seeking clarity on any elements from your bid that they were not sure about, or needed more information.  

An RFP is a great tool for buyers and procurement teams as it should ensure they are comparing bids that are like for like, which are based on the same specification, requirement, standards, or service levels, for example. It allows them to evaluate and make a contract award in an open, transparent, and accountable way.  

For bidders, an RFP can often be a great opportunity as you can fully understand the requirement before investing time and resources into bidding for it. Quite often being sent RFP from a private sector also means you are in a small group of bidders invited, so less competition. Public Sector tenders may also have an initial prequalification stage or selection questionnaire before the RFP, which is a quicker exercise, and once shortlisted again it does mean for the RFP stage you will be up against fewer bidders.  

If you have been invited to tender or sent an RFP and would like to discuss it, please contact us now.  

We have recently launched our Tender Pipeline Software. Get FREE Tender updates, announcements and competitor information straight to your email. 

" We recently utilised the Bid Resource Division of Thornton and Lowe in order to recruit two additional team members for our Bids and Tenders team.

They were successful in sourcing excellent candidates for both Bid Writer and Bid Manager roles.

We were extremely happy with the standard of candidates introduced to us and the service we received.

Consequently, we would have no hesitation in recommending Thornton and Lowe to any companies looking for any assistance with their recruitment of Bids, Tenders and Proposals Specialists. "

Nico Prinsloo Commercial Sales Director - CH&Co Group

" We would recommend Thornton & Lowe as a specialist bid recruiter having recently worked with them on a bid writer vacancy. We appreciated the professionalism, pragmatism and honesty clearly demonstrated and most importantly we recruited a very good candidate from a small talent pool. "

Zeena Ozturk, Centry Services

" We utilised the Bid Resource Division of Thornton and Lowe on two occasions recently, we were looking to recruit additional Technical Bid Writers to join our expanding Technical and Corporate Services team

The resource team at Thornton and Lowe fully understood our requirements and were able to source some excellent candidates for the roles.

Both successful candidates are now making a positive contribution to the team and we would have no hesitation in recommending Thornton and Lowe to any companies looking to recruit Bids, Tenders, and Proposals Specialists. "

Pamela Lilley, Human Resources Manager, Walker Construction

" I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Thornton & Lowe for their recent help in finding a suitable placement for our senior bid writer position. Both Mark and Chris have invaluable knowledge of the bid writing world and took the time to understand our exact needs and company culture. As such, they found us the right person who is perfectly suited to the role but more importantly to the team and the company.

Thank you! "

Charlotte LeComber, Bid Manager, Crown Partnership

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